While I believe many may not see the point of attending the Tomorrow’s Leaders Summit , I believe that some way along the summit, everyone benefited.
THE GALA DINNER
The first day, was the reception dinner. Nothing special, except the attendance of Pn Sri Ragaad Waleed, Pehin Sri’s new wife. Many would have opinions of her being beside someone twice her age, but most would concur that she brings out charisma and elegance as Sarawak’s 1st lady. During this dinner, Norman was the emcee, and I was proud that he did a splendid job despite his last minute preparations. You see, Norman didn’t expect to become the emcee of the gala dinner, and he was told hours before the event of his role. Still, he pulled it off well.
THE KEYNOTE ADRESS
The second day was packed with activities. Issues on helium and nuclear reactors was the main subject when Nobel Laureate, Professor Douglas D. Osheroff came up for his key note address. As much as I would like to listen, I was busy at the Starbucks counter discussion with my fellow panelist about the topic which we needed to cover for the discussion session: High Income Youth. The topic was complicated, and none of the panelist had proper idea of what ‘High Income Youth’ was about. Finally, we decided to just lay out our own definitions, and let the discussion grow from there.
THE PANELIST SESSION
The panelist session was fun and very encouraging. We had a good discussion, but I felt the topic derailed from defining ‘High Income Youths’ to ‘Engaging Youths’. As for me, I summed up High Income Youth as a “Being able to enjoy life, spend without worry and being able to save for the future”. I’m not sure if that’s the right definition, but I pointed that out during the discussion. Too bad, when I was doing this, the audience was still eating and having a summit of their own at the back of the hall. The audience only started sitting down to listen when we were about to sum it up, but I guess if anything was proven during that discussion, it was how the gap between young and old is still very much intact, and how some people refuse to look at things the ‘Sarawak way’. I did point this out, but I was shot down, and then… I kept my silence. I’m a Sarawakian, and I know how family values in Sarawak are very much intact. Youths know what they want, but parents do put breaks on their ambitions. Sometimes, other issues arise. Yes, all this can be addressed, but we can’t expect things to change overnight. “Rome was not built in one day“, the saying goes.
I was moderating for the workshops. It was interesting to see inputs by the speakers and audiences/delegates. To be honest, the workshops were very interactive and taught myself a lot. The session with Grace Ng in particularly was insightful as she shed some tips on how she became a TV journalist. The outcome of the workshop will help improve Sarawak Bloggers as Grace had helped Fahriee and myself come up with some rough ideas in how to make the community more interesting.
THE BORNEO YOUTH DECLARATION
Probably this stunned many observers and outside delegates. Just when the organizers thought things were smooth, youths from Sarawak stood up in one voice to protest what they deemed as ‘lacking a Sarawakian touch’. It all started when the organizers came in to present a draft of the ‘Borneo Youth Declaration’. The first sentence was read, and up came Sherrie saying “How can I agree to this? I did not write this!” Her statement stunned the organizers, and the response given by Ediola Pashollari (WAY Secretary General) failed to calm her down as she defended the declaration, hence making Sherrie feeling her voice was ‘shot down’. To be honest, I also didn’t like how Miss Ediola responded to Sherrie, and I was seated. Imagine if I was in Sherrie’s shoes? On top of that, there was also a lot of stressing on how “the declaration came up from the panelist and workshops”, and this statement was not supported by many. I know the sentiments as I was the only Sarawakian up there (as a panelist), and the youths also felt that a declaration which is supposed to originate them, should only be concluded after they were involved in the discussion.
I came up to the mic, and requested for a printed copy to be distributed to enable better understanding among the youths, but some of them said ‘Go Green!!’
I wasn’t really pleased by the ‘Go Green’ shout as I felt that this declaration was important and we needed to digest and really know what it was all about, but fair enough, maybe the guy was an environmentalist. No harm done. Nonetheless, my suggestion was later accepted, and so we broke down into groups to digest what was brought on the table.
After 2 solid hours (from 930-1130) discussing the declaration draft, with the help of those understanding the ‘government language’ explaining, the declaration was again brought to the table with youth elected leaders asked to come up inform the organizers what they wanted amended.
Well, the two hour failed, as some group leaders (which I was told were actually observers) instead brought up questions of their own, prompting the organizers to try their best to calm everyone up and get the new suggestions up and running. It still failed with some youth leaders getting even more agitated. Sarawakian youths seemed unperturbed by any effort to proceed with the declaration draft, and stood up in unity asking for another conference or summit just for the declaration. New issues also popped up with Sabahan calling out that they should not have used the word ‘Borneo’ as it does not involve the Sabahan youths.
With the declaration already looking far from being achieved, the draft was finally scrapped, and no Borneo Youth Declaration was concluded. Instead, the whole summit was to be immediately concluded.
The team from YouthWorks.Asia also showed they were unhappy with the event when they were informed by the organizers that their RLabs Session was not going to happen.
I left at 1PM as I had other commitments, but I was told everything ended after that.
NEED FOR REFINEMENT?
I personally believed that the organizers of Tomorrow’s Leaders Summit meant well, but failed engaging proper youth sentiments. The summit however is a good platform for young leaders to learn and gain experience. In fact, the supposed ‘Borneo Youth Declaration’ had very good intentions. I have read the declaration draft, and after understanding it, it does reflect what the younger generation wants. Go here to read the declaration.
On another note, I loud the organizer for taking an initiative to help build leaders for tomorrow, and I firmly believe that what the organizers did was spark something beneficial for young Sarawakians. It takes alot of effort and money to organize such an event, and I strongly believe the most important part of the TLS, which is the workshops was very very beneficial.
However, the whole process of coming up with the declaration should be refined in the future. Youths nowadays do not want to be treated as merely ‘rubber stamps’. They want to be part of the whole process.
The whole problem wasn’t that the things written in the declaration wasn’t good, but rather the fact that the youths of Sarawak felt they had little to do with the declaration draft. I guess, the reaction from the Sarawakian youths towards the declaration draft not only stunned the organizers, but also foreign delegates.
As I said on my Facebook status, “Sarawakians are no pushovers despite our hospitality…”,
Lastly, to the organizers of the Tomorrow’s Leaders Summit; Glenreagh Sdn Bhd… “Thank you for having the Sarawak Bloggers at the summit“. It was an honor.